We’re Not Joking Around; Something BIG is Coming

Hackaday Something BIG LogoCountdown timer, a special presentation on the first of this month, and now there’s been some weekly mystery posts. What are we playing at? We’re not playing. This is real.

That timer is now below the 10-day mark and with every passing minute we become more giddy about the unrelenting awesome that is to come. Want to know what we’re talking about without waiting until the end? Are you a clever person? Then you might just be able to figure it all out. Try to unlock the clues from past weeks, and hit the Freenode ##hackaday channel on IRC if you need some hints (we’re certainly not going to post spoilers here).

We wouldn’t mind some help with a whisper campaign as well. Spout your conspiracy theories, and your delight at solving our puzzles to whoever will listen. Get it right and you can do the “I told you so” thing for the rest of the…. oops, that would be telling.

Sci-Fi Contest Roundup: No Tea


In case you haven’t heard, we’re running a contest on Hackaday Projects for the best Sci-Fi build. We’re a little under two weeks until the deadline for the contest and so far there are a lot of great entries (and lots of great prizes still up for grabs).

If there’s one thing this contest has taught us, it’s that Hackaday readers have impeccable taste in their choices of books, movies, TV shows, and video games. We were surprised at how many entries there are for Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a series not generally known for having cool gadgets such as giant mechs, lightsabers, and other impressively awesome stuff. Here’s a roundup of the current HHGTTG submissions for the Sci-Fi contest:

Doors That Sass

roundup-robot-doorThe doors in Hitchhiker’s Guide are insufferable self-contented sentient portals programmed by the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation to love their simple lives. Upon everyone opening or closing one of these doors, they thank the person for validating their existence.

The door in [Jarrett]‘s hackerspace wouldn’t stay closed, so what better way to fix the door than with a robotic door greeter? Actually, it’s just a weight tied to a pulley that keeps the door closed with a little bit of circuitry that plays an .mp3 file when the door moves. Still, self-contented doors. [Goug] is also making one of these self-satisfied doors, but there’s not much in the way of progress.

Going Up?

sentient-elevatorThe Happy Vertical People Transporter is HHGTTG’s answer to the common elevator. Like doors, they’re also sentient, but also have ‘defocused temporal perception’ to arrive at a floor before a passenger even realizes they need a lift. [DigiGram] and [Lolla] are working on one of these sentient elevators using a webcam, OpenCV, and some AVR-based electronics.

Look Out!

peril-sensitive-glassesThe Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses allow the user to adapt to danger by blacking out a the first signs of peril. [colabot] and [minimum effective dose] realized you can just buy glasses that can be blacked out electronically in the form of active shutter glasses for a 3D TV. With a few peril sensors, they’re working on finishing up their peril sensitive sunglasses.

Remember, the Hackaday Projects Sci-Fi contest doesn’t end until April 29th. That leaves you plenty of time to enter your own build. May we suggest a Brownian motion simulation beverage?


Sniffing Vending Machine Buses

Sniffing the Multidrop Bus


We’ve talked about a variety of protocols and how to deal with them in the past. Today, [Dan] is working on sniffing vending machine Multidrop Bus. The Multidrop Bus (MDB) protocol is a standard used in vending machines to connect devices such as currency collectors to the host controller.

To connect to the bus, interface hardware is required. [Dan] worked out compliant hardware and connected it to an Arduino. With the device on the bus, [Dan] got to work on an Arduino sketch to parse the MDB data into a human-readable format. With that working, the bus can easily be sniffed over the Arduino’s serial console.

This is just the start of a more involved project. Since this protocol is used to communicate with a vending machine’s currency collector or card reader, being able to communicate it would allow him to implement his own payment methods. The plan is to augment the vending machine he operates at Vancouver Hack Space to accept Bitcoin. We’re looking forward to seeing that project unfold.

Raspberry Pi Remote Audio Link

Hardware for remote audio link


In broadcast, lots of people are still using dedicated analog lines to connect remote sites. These operate like old telephone systems: you call up the operator and request to be patched through to a specific site. They’re also rather expensive.

For a hospital radio station, [Marc] wanted to replace the old system with something less costly. The result is his Raspberry Pi STL in a Box. Inside the box is a Raspberry Pi, PiFace display, a pair of meters, and some analog hardware for the audio.

On the software side, the system uses LiquidSoap to manage the stream. LiquidSoap uses a language to configure streams, and [Marc] has a write-up on how to configure LiquidSoap for this application. On the hardware side, SSM2142 ICs convert the signal from single-ended to balanced. The meters use the LM3915 bar drivers to control the meters.

The Python script that controls the box is provided, and could be helpful for anyone needing to build their own low-cost audio link.


Interactive Gloves Turn Gestures into Music

Imogen Heap wearing her Mi.Mu gloves

[Imogen Heap] is a UK-based musician who is trying to change the way we think about making music. She’s been working on a pair of gloves called the Mi.Mu, and they’re getting close to production.

In the included interview she explains that while computers and technology have brought many new advances to music, twiddling dials and pushing random buttons “is not very exciting for me, or the audience”. With these gloves, the artist becomes one with the music and interaction.

The current iteration of gloves use flex sensors along each finger to determine the movement (along with motion sensors for other gestures). She’s been through many designs and hopes to integrate e-materials into the next — using the actual glove as the sensor (not physical flex sensors).

She’s been working with both developers and musicians mapping the various motions of the gloves to music which makes sense in an intuitive way, and it’s very unique to see in action.

[Read more...]

The Persistence of Jumping Rope

POV Jump Rope

[Antonio Ospite] recently took up jump rope to increase his cardio, and also being a hacker decided to have some extra fun with it. He’s created the JMP-Rope — the Programmable Jump Rope.

He’s using the same principle as a normal POV (Persistence of Vision) display, but with a cool twist. He’s managed to put the microcontroller (a Trinket) and battery into the handle of the jump rope. Using a slip ring system, the RGB signal gets passed to the rope, which contains the LEDs. It’s a pretty slick setup, and he’s written another post all about how he did the hardware.

To create the images for his JMP-Rope, he’s outlined the steps to a successful POV image on his blog. These include re-sizing the image to a circle (duh), reducing the color palette, and then performing pixel mapping using a discrete conversion (from polar to Cartesian coordinates). After that it’s just a matter of representing your new-found pixel map in a 1D animation, played column by column. [Antonio] stores these frames on the micro-controller as an RLE (run length encoded) indexed bitmap.

Stick around to see how he made it, and some other cool examples of what it can do!

[Read more...]

Interactive 3D Projection is Foggy At Best

fog proj

Have a projector and a smoke machine handy? You might want to give this fog projection thing a shot! It’s called the MisTable and it’s a three-dimensional playground for interactive manipulation of images.

It’s a project by Bristol Interaction and Graphics group of the University of Bristol, and it’s an interesting twist on 3D projection. They’ve created what they call the MisTable which features a smoke machine, “smoke screens”, and three projectors. What it results in is an interactive table for two people. The tabletop surface is a display, as is the see through fog in front of each person (the “fog screens”).

While it is fairly easy to understand and explain, there’s a handy diagram after the following break showing how the system works. Our question is, when are one of you guys or gals going to try making one?

[Read more...]